Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Interviews and opinions

In the world of the reporter, how much of their personal bias are they allowed to show before it crosses a line and becomes too much? More specifically, is there or is there not an unwritten code of remaining unbiased and impartial during, at the very least, interview segments? And isn't that part of why reporters will interview people that they don't necessarily agree with?

Take, for example, a recent appearance on "FOX and Friends" by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). During the interview, questions were raised regarding the recent proposals from Gen. George Casey, a general on the ground in Iraq. Gen. Casey has a number of proposals for dealing with the situation in Iraq, and the suggestion gaining the most ground (at least, news-wise), is the idea of starting to pull troops out of Iraq later this year, with a more concentrated effort in the future. Part of the reason that this particular proposal of Casey's is getting so much attention is that it fairly closely mirrors suggestions that the Democrats in Congress have put forward, only to be met with allegations from the GOP about how they are looking to "cut-and-run".

Sen. Levin, in an interview with FOXNews host Brian Kilmeade, brought this proposal into the light again, and questioned openly whether or not the GOP would attack Casey for his suggestion of removing troops the same way that they'd attacked the Democrats. Kilmeade made the correct move initially by pointing out that the removal of troops was one of a number of different suggestions Gen. Casey made. Levin, in true politico fashion, maintained his point, driving home that the Democrats suggested a similar withdrawal plan, only to be lambasted by the GOP. The real problem, and the obvious crossing of journalistic impartiality came just after, as Kilmeade announced what the "best-case scenario" was, and that he firmly believed that Casey had as much hope as Levin, but that the fact remained that it was one of a number of different proposals presented by the general. By injecting his own opinion into the conversation, Kilmeade inadvertantly downplayed the facts as they existed. The final comment by Sen. Levin was, "I was hoping this would be an interview of me rather than an interview of you." Kilmeade snapped back, and that was that.

Again, the big question has to be whether or not journalistic impartiality still exists. Sure, the pundits and talking heads are allowed to spew whatever vehemence they want, regardless of the side they take (I admit to liking Keith Olbermann, but he's a very very angry man, and he DEFINITELY has a slant, and Bill O'Reilly is never afraid to speak his mind, even if it means being incorrect on the details), but aren't the journalists supposed to be held to a different standard? Or is this a sign of things to come, as network and cable news gets further and further from impartiality, and we're completely tied to a news organization based off of our political beliefs?

Maybe this is a good thing, really. Maybe, before long, we'll be able to see cartoon characters, who are known for being caricatures of extreme viewpoints, espousing their political statements. I, for one, would love to see a debate between Harvey Birdman and Yosemite Sam.

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